Ultimate magazine theme for WordPress.

High Court blocks new taxi fares

Nat Molomo

MASERU — The High Court on Friday issued an interim order barring the government from implementing new taxi fares.
The new fares were supposed to be effective from tomorrow.
The government, through the Road Transport Board, had approved the new transport fares which the Maseru Region Transport Operators (MRTO) said were not enough.
The association wants a 100 percent increase.
On Friday the MRTO filed an urgent application seeking to bar the transport board from effecting the new taxi fares pending the outcome of further negotiations between the two parties.
The taxi operators cited the Traffic Commissioner, Road Transport Board, the Minister of Public Works and the Attorney-General as respondents.
According to the new fares announced by the board 4+1 taxis were supposed to hike their charges from M4.50 to M5.50 per trip.
Minibuses were going to M5 up from M4.
Fares for conventional buses had increased from M2.70 to M3.50.
In court papers the MRTO chairperson Mokete Jonas states that the association was informed last Friday that the Road Transport Board had decided to implement new passenger transport fares on August 1.
He said the association met the transport board on July 27 but the two parties could not agree on the new fares.
Jonas claims that during that meeting the transport board “admitted that there are serious mistakes on the new fares such as on the same distance the fares are different”.
On some routes fares were reduced instead of being increased, he added.
“The board admitted that the difference of fares between a taxi and bus is too glaring, and this is the position countrywide. It is likely to cause wars among taxi operators as they fight for passengers.
“This imminent lawlessness and destruction of peace and security should be avoided at all costs,” Jonas said.
Jonas said the board also admitted that increments had been pegged at the same level for taxis plying gravel and tarred roads.
The association had cited Tsoapolebolila, Koalabalata and other routes throughout the country as examples, Jonas said.
The MRTO said if the interim order was granted the respondents would not suffer any prejudice because the “public would still be benefiting by not paying the new fares”.
The taxi operators want the High Court to compel the transport board to get views from the public before implementing the new fares.
They also warned that if the interim order is granted “the likely harm which borders on security and peace would also be avoided”.
Judge Ts’eliso Monaphathi granted the interim order effectively blocking the new taxi fares until the matter has been finalised by the courts.
“The copy of the interim order herein be published in a newspaper widely circulating in Lesotho, and that this order is operate with immediate with effect as an interim relief,” Justice Monaphathi ordered.
The public relations officer of MRTO, Lebohang Moea, told the Sunday Express that the cost of vehicle parts and fuel had necessitated their request for a 100 percent taxi fare hike.
He said the local taxi industry was “doing badly under the current fares”.
“In Lesotho it is only the Road Transport Board that makes decisions on taxi fares, this is why we cannot increase fares based on the increase or decrease in the price of fuel,” Moea said.
He said the government should subsidise taxi operators if it wants to keep the fares low. That way, Moea said, passengers would not be affected.
“Alternatively the government can increase salaries for public servants so that they are able to absorb the new fares we are calling for,” Moea said.
Moea said taxi operators would take to the streets if they do not get a favourable response from the Traffic Board “within a reasonable time”
Advocate Letuka Molati appeared for the MRTO.

Comments are closed.